A Time of Beauty and Health Challenges

October 14, 2023, by Dr. Mihaela Pepel


Magnificent autumn, your time has come. Fall was never my favorite season, but I have to admit that I haven’t seen anything more beautiful than October’s colors. Each year, October brings with it a symphony of colors that never fails to amaze.

However, fall brings its challenges too. We love the crisp fall air, but especially when the air turns cold fast, and the body doesn’t have time to adjust to the temperature change, it’s much easier to catch a cold. This can spiral into more severe conditions if your immune system is not robust enough or if there are predisposing conditions.

Can you catch a cold if you get cold? The answer is…yes. Cold weather makes the superficial vascularization contract, reducing blood supply to respiratory organs. This leads to fewer white blood cells reaching the surface of the trachea, bronchial wall, lung’s alveoli, allowing viruses like RSV, Para influenza, and various coronaviruses to multiply exponentially.

Fall also marks the start of school, where children exchange viruses and bring them home to parents and caregivers. In my experience working as a Medical Doctor in Romania, having one cold a year seemed like the body’s annual “tune-up” protocol for the immune system.

In my “nature cure” mindset, my goal is to enhance my patients’ immunity, so they don’t experience several colds a year in the first place. You don’t have to be sick, or have any symptoms, to start taking a professional-grade supplement for Immune Support. Medicinal herbs like Astragalus membranaceaus, Beta 1,3 Glucan (extracted from mushrooms), or Osha Root are just a few of the very effective ingredients I use in my practice for immune support.

However, the majority of my patients visit the doctor only when they feel sick. A sore throat and hoarseness can be diagnosed with a throat exam. This diagnosis can suggest what microbe may be causing the problem, and if we want to isolate it, I would write a requisition form for a throat/nose culture.

There are many over-the-counter treatment options for Sore Throat, enlarged tonsils, but none are as effective as a combination of herbs containing Lymph Movers like Phytolacca (Poke Root), Antivirals like St. John’s Wort, Olive leaf, Lemon Balm leaf, and Antibacterials like Isatis Root Extract, Bearberry Extract, and Astragalus.

Coughs, either irritative or productive, can be frustrating. They may get worse when you lie down, disrupting your sleep. Doctors say lying flat in bed can cause mucus to collect in the airway, making coughing more likely. This pattern may be observed in both dry coughs and those with mucus secretion. These characteristics are valuable in choosing the appropriate homeopathic treatment, such as Drosera for a dry cough or Spongia tosta for a croupy, barking cough.

Another kind of sub-acute cough is the residual cough that can appear after viral respiratory infections and may last for months. It is important in an Upper Respiratory Infection for the doctor to listen to the lungs. Hearing crackles on lung auscultation, or other sounds, may help reach the correct diagnosis, especially when the common cold complicates with asthma or another chronic condition. If needed, I provide referrals for chest X-Rays or other labs that may give us necessary information.

Over-the-counter cough medicines will suppress the cough and make you feel a little better. However, my goal as a naturopathic doctor is to treat the deeper cause. By doing this, you also prevent future episodes, or at least make them less frequent.

Caffeine is a mild bronchodilator, helping to open your airways. The steam from warm liquids can also help to open the airways, hence the beneficial hot chicken soup, or hot teas… A very powerful herb for opening the airways is Ephedra (Ma Huang), but due to misuse, it has been restricted. Wild Black Cherry (bark) is a well-known cough suppressant, while Lobelia Inflata has a long history of use for respiratory conditions.

Stay healthy, enjoy the season, and don’t forget to get your brooms out for Halloween. Let’s have a race!